Reading List #11

So I missed the  weekly deadline – but hey that’s why I number these posts instead, there’s no false advertising on my part. The problem with running longer though is I don’t tend to switch off – there’s just more stuff! So here’s to a bumper edition!

Bursting Bubbles and Different Perspectives

The first couple of posts have had a really positive affect on me, despite the confronting and perhaps pessimistic perspectives. Working and living in an increasingly digital environment, you often find yourself inside an echo chamber or inhabiting a bubble. A reality check that pops the bubble acts as a cleanse and a chance to re-evaluate life, my problems and what actually matters. When you feel like you’re in a rut this kind of perspective pulls you up by the ears and forces air into your lungs.

Conservative Party address, Jack Monroe

by @MsJackMonroe

I cannot image what the reaction would have been like in the room when this speech was given. I was aghast, shocked and heart broken reading it in private – seeing it delivered live from the author would have been a confronting and wrenching experience. I will always support a national social system – but this piece so eloquently bought home the plight of those who need and rely on the system. It humanised them in a such a vivid way just through these words you have to wonder why the media fails to capture it at all. Social Welfare is necessary – but it should always be seen as a failure on our behalf, particularly those in power:

Why are you not ashamed, Sir, that there are FIVE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE people in your constituency who desperately cannot afford to feed themselves and their families?

The passion is evident and I salute you Jack for this astounding, thought provoking and poignant work.

Fuck pink

by @BHS_Doyle

I never gave thought to the people suffering cancer beyond the glossy images of those brave and strong cancer survivors. Yes, the stories were always harrowing but never an experience I could really relate to. This piece I could. This piece had me in tears, it left me gasping all the way through because it was visceral, hard, confronting and scary – the complete opposite of the pink movement that inevitable make cancer seem “fun” and warm and fuzzy!?!

A mistake is a moment in time

by @jasonfried

I love this:

He said the Navajo saw mistakes as moments in time. And since you can’t change time, why try to change a mistake that already happened?

It’s how we have to live – to accept what we have done, what we can change and where we can go.

The Pessimist

by @frankieboyle

Nothing matters. We’re essentially all highly evolved monkeys clinging to a rock that’s falling through space. And the rock itself is dying.
– Frankie Boyle

So fatalistic it makes the mundane problems of work and life fade into oblivion. Maybe not the best thing to end this section on – but for me it wipes the slate clean – ready for the next go.

Education

8 Big Ideas of the Constructionist Learning Lab

by @smartinez

I really love the idea of a learning lab – wish it was how all education was structured. This summary of the 8 ideas that underlie a Constructionist Learning Lab are a great mindset to be in:

  1. Learning by doing
  2. Technology as building material
  3. Hard fun
  4. Learning to learn
  5. Taking time
  6. Do unto ourselves what we do unto our students
  7. We are entering a digital world

From Paths to Sandboxes

by @stephenanderson

The learning lab leads well into this piece which perhaps focusses more on how we design the education to create a “a learning environment that encourages exploration and discovery”. This discussion about gamification is really a breath of fresh air that moves beyond the world of incentives and simple challenges.

I love the idea of “generative” as a model for 21st century education that moves away from the current “exhaustibles” systems which has clear paths and end points.

This image (that came from twitter clearly defines the differences between the two approaches – Paths vs Sandboxed
Paths vs Sandboxes

To be honest I don’t think we need to ditch paths at all – but I think we need to adopt an approach that allows both to coexist. The only real way is to think more holistically – to see beyond a single subject or course – but as a component of a broader degree or attainment. As Dave Malouf points out “paths are just moments that connect different sandboxes & their relationship = experience”.

The perils of persuasion

by @cennydd

While this isn’t article doesn’t actually address education in any way I can see direct parallels with the current situation of educational technology. If we followed the tenets of user-centred design we put students at the heart of our decisions and practice with technology. That’s not the reality now is it?

No, what we have is something that Cennydd points to as being persuasion design – individualised, competitive and with an implicit, but undeniable judgment, that certain behaviours are preferable to others. Now that sounds like edtech and the vocal “education is broken” crew. Lines like this seem all too familiar territory –

Fear not, huddled masses – the design elite will lead you to the promised land.

This all comes together around the idea that persuasion design is marketing – user experience isn’t. Rewording this for education – the philosophy of persuasion design prioritises business goals above those of the learner, and its values are irreconcilable with empathy, the central value of education.

What can KM learn from supply chain management?

by @nickknoco

I really think one of the key problems facing universities at the moment is their failure to grasp the concept of a Knowledge Organisation and apply it to the structure, management and day-to-day operations. Instead we seem to be increasingly applying ‘industrial’ methods, processes and practices that work just fine in manufacturing – but that’s simply just not the business we are in. Therefore any analogy or vision I find to help illustrate this will make me sit up and take note.

Nick’s analogy of the analogy of the Knowledge Management supply chain is a fairly robust one (go and have a read). In this post though he highlights some of the key principles behind good supply chain management.

  1. Everyone involved must be committed – relationships must be good, be eager to share, be eager to listen and users must be keen to access the new knowledge.
  2. It must be reliable – lessons don’t get lost, things will get done, validation exists and actions are taken and changes made as a result.
  3. It must be quality-controlled – Garbage in, garbage out. Poor quality parts, poor quality product.
  4. There must be transparency – the process has to be visible and have valid metrics to provide oversight.
  5. It must add value – the motivation for people to participate has to be value.
  6. It must be efficient – cycle time for change and development needs to be as short as possible. Think smaller and more manageable actions rather than our penchant for massive, multi-year projects.
  7. It must be lean – knowledge needs to be on hand and embedded into the organisation rather than stockpiled by individuals.

Missing The Point Of EdTech

by @anotherschwab

I have to agree with the post that the power of search, social media and collaboration is severely limited in our educational institutions. There is lack of skill or literacy from staff, lack of application in course design and a lack of support by hierarchies and accreditation bodies. Why does it matter? Well…

being able to read through a predefined set of information laid out in a scripted order out of a textbook or being able to identify facts handed out on a worksheet are incredibly obsolete skills in today’s connected world. These are the skills of my past. They are not the skills she will need for the future. Unfortunately, these obsolete skills work just fine for school as it is today and therein lies one of the biggest challenges facing education.

Defining mobile learning: my take

by @mseangallagher

I’m feeling a great relief after reading this post. Part of me has been trying to articulate the real impact of mobile on our education and on our learning. I’ve been playing with the idea of contexts – I’ve heard others using spaces and environments. This is because mobile affects the more complex and broader environment, social and technical, or just simply location. Then along comes Michael’s post which introduced me to the idea of Habitus:

Habitus refers to the “the life world of the individual framed both as challenge and as an environment and a potential resource for learning” (2007). In viewing learning through habitus, every space has the potential to be a learning space when viewed appropriately. Within this transformation of space to learning space, we witness the mobility in mobile learning. In other words, “that which is mobile is not knowledge or information, but the learner’s habitus” (2007).

I like this a lot – mainly because it then frees up ‘context’ and ‘contextually’ in my vocabulary. I’ll have to mull it over some more – so expect a post sometime to try and unpack the sentiment.

Return on Intangibles

by @jaycross

Carrying on the them of the knowledge organisations:

Because knowledge has become the single most important factor of production, managing intellectual assets has become the single most important task of business.

Yet educational institutions really perform badly at recognising this fact.

In the last twenty years of the twentieth century, Wall Street investors changed the way they determined what a company was worth. That’s why Return on Intangibles is the most important metric in the CLO’s toolkit.

While in education we seek more efficient and effective ways to create tangibles to measure – there is proof we could simply bypasses the need all together. Education’s value is measure by the Banker’s evaluation of “liquidation value” rather than the Investors ability to leverage the intangibles and find the really big returns.

Andrew Hamilton deserves a booting

by @PlashingVole

Fantastic critique of the comments made by the Oxford Vice Chancellor: “Top universities that offer better outcomes for students should be allowed to charge significantly higher tuition fees than institutions that provide an inferior education”.

My university admits students from a much more diverse background. Many have poor or no qualifications. Most of them have family commitments and have to work for a living while studying. They are motivated and we motivate them further. Once in, we push them. We expect as much dedication from them as my Oxford colleague. Our curriculae may be different but it’s no less intensive or cutting edge. We offer a wide range of degrees and other qualifications and draw on the latest research, some of which we conduct.

I feel the same way about Charles Sturt University, my workplace. We take in higher percentages of students from low socio-economic status, indigenous populations and first in the family HE students. Any dismissal of the role of similar institutions only highlights the Walled Garden view of highered that is increasingly completely divorced from reality.

Work

Take Time Off

by @cassiemarketos

There’s something beautifully disturbing about this:

In retrospect, I realize that I was suffering from a kind of mimicry. Rather than thoughtfully defining what I personally wanted, I had absorbed an arbitrary value system from my surrounding environment. Based on that, I had created a set of goals that I had no real desire to accomplish, but felt crappy nevertheless for failing to achieve. I just saw other people around me defining success and happiness as a certain thing, and thought, “Oh, that must be it.” And I had ended up working in the opposite direction of anything I had ever wanted or that made me feel good, but the further along I got on that path, the more resigned I felt to it.

I do question a lot of the accepted “wisdom” around work, life and social functions and often wonder if we are living in one mass delusion. But then I watch television and everything is ok again 🙂

Resilience and rationality

by @EskoKilpi

In two weeks, two calls for a new model of rational behaviour. Interesting.

I like a lot of these lessons because they embody and imply an organic language humans (rather than applying mechanical attributes).

  1. “The first emerging theme is that communication is in fact a process of continuous coordination and knowledge creation. Knowledge is not shared as contents, but arises in action. Knowledge is never transmitted from one mind to another. People are participating in a complex process of coordination. It is a change from movement of messages to a joint movement of thought.”
  2. “The choices people make, their buying decisions and their political views, are directly influenced by other people. That is to say that we construct our world together in communication.”
  3. “The third emerging theme is that communication creates patterns. Words become what they are through the responsive actions of the people taking part…In management, it means that there is nothing one person alone can do to be a good manager. Good ideas don’t count as good ideas, if other people don’t treat them as such.”

JOB is a four-letter word

by @hjarche

This sums up my work life at the moment:

Here’s the organizational common wisdom: I’m not faculty, therefore I can’t be involved in teaching. I don’t work in computing services therefore I can’t touch IT. I’m not in HR so I can’t help with organizational development. Stick to your knitting, is the implied message of departmental responsibilities and hierarchies. If I see an opportunity outside my job description there are few things I can do about it. I can initiate some collegial conversations, if I have the opportunity, but I’m not invited to the table.

My job, my skill set, my experience and my personality don’t lend me to the Taylorist division of labour. I don’t fit into the neat boxes that are in our institution – I’d say I am an educationalist without being a teacher, that I am a technologist without being too technical. I am a fringe dweller and occupy a space where I could weave together the disparate strands of the organisation – I just need the opportunity. For the last fortnight I’ve been asking myself this exact question:

What happens to a person’s entrepreneurial and creative spirit after they repeatedly see that they can’t do anything with it? If you’re told often enough that it’s not your job, you will start saying, sorry, but that’s not my job.

I sit at this crossroads contemplating my next move. I can keep trying to make a difference (but probably need to take a more disruptive path) or finally just opt out and concede defeat – to get on with a job – just not the one I really envisage for myself.

“I’m concerned about your ability to conform.”

by @lexsisney

I really liked this post about Conformity vs Community. Lex has a really interesting theory mapped out in his Organisational Physics concept, but I really like his definition of Community because it really resonates with what I think my organisation’s strength – diversity – and how it ultimately makes things alive, vibrant, and adaptive over time.

Wise leaders build their businesses on a different principle. Rather than allowing for conformity, they design for community. Conformity gives the illusion of control but, in the end, its focus on “monocultures” makes the system brittle, stagnant, and tired. Community takes more time and courage to build but its focus on diversity ultimately makes things alive, vibrant, and adaptive over time.

In regards to the framework Lex outlines I think we’re doing well for number one – but feel we need to work a lot harder on change to really address the others.

The inverted U – death by a thousand applications

by @sig

Great post on the need to bring effective, not just efficient, back into the conversation.

productivity is a combination of two parameters: It’s a result of both how we do things and what things we do. In single terms that would translate to efficiency and effectiveness.

Seem like we’re getting nowhere, faster.

Incorporating More Quiet Into The UX Design Process

by @DotGridDotCom & @Swan5280

I’m quite easily identifiable as an introvert and can relate to this post so much. While I’m at ease speaking in public or in conversation about topics I know, I need to recharge and retreat into my space. It doesn’t mean I don’t want social interaction or to live in isolation – I just need a balance to actually function.

This is a great post that discusses how introverts work, how that can be harnessed and how we need to understand the broad spectrum of personalities and behaviours that compliment each other when seeking to work towards our goals.

Innovation

An Event Apart: Beyond Play!

by @lukew

These are just notes from a talk form Joshua Davis and they really hit home to an important mindset and way of working that encourages innovation:

industry wants to replicate rather than innovate. If you spend too much time in work, and not play – you’ll never find the next thing. To get the next idea, you have to experiment

I don’t agree that the opposite of work is play – I think play is an important component of learning – and learning is a part of work.

Enterprise crowdfunding: How an IBM experiment improved innovation and morale

by @TSLCCEvents

I thought this was a great concept for how innovation can be embedded into the organisation – and not needing to be seen as a separate identity. The trend towards distributed methods of organisation really show that when managed properly the group is always smarter.

For ideas within higher education having different kinds of project and innovations would be useful so that we could target a range of different areas – improve campus life, for DE student life, teaching areas and staff wellbeing. It actually has huge potential if the crowd were actually given some budget control – and there are some great examples around the world of this actually happening. I read one example where it was used in Brazil as a way of subverting inherent corruption. For many large organisations, while not corrupt have to deal with a range of vested interests and crowd sourcing is a way of reapplying democratic values in an age of greed, lobbying and vested interests.

Technology

Think Like (a) Git

by @geeksam

I am looking to make Git part of my working practice as the why really makes sense – I just need to actually work out how! I came across this really useful guide for anyone looking to get some Git enlightenment.

Publishing with GitHub pages

By @krisshaffer

So why Git? Well its projects like this that demonstrate the power and practicality of using Git to work in the open. In an effort to “work out loud” I haven’t quite worked it into my everyday practice – instead it’s more like “update when ready” at the moment. This is a great example of using some simple and available technologies to develop an increasingly powerful improvement to working digitally and collaboratively.

Obscurity: A Better Way to Think About Your Data Than ‘Privacy’

by @hartzog & @EvanSelinger

I did read this post when it was published earlier in the year – but I wasn’t doing the reading list then. It came up again in my Twitter feed so it was good to revisit it, it also tied in nicely to my watching of the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply.

I really like the idea of obscurity and the original article did sum up a lot of my personal reactions to “privacy” concerns. However, after watching the film its become a bit more obvious that this is increasingly unlikely to happen. When tech companies (and involved government agencies)don’t make obscurity an option, or intentionally not work, we are heading towards a big brother state. The section of the movie that deals with the term “protect” so often used in legalese was quite terrifying and bordering on the sci-fi distopian vision of “precrime” and “thoughtcrime”.

Highly recommend watching the film – would love to hear some more thoughts on it.

If it doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t work

by @brianboyer

Fantastic article and really informative. The title if it doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t work is one of those Ten Commandment type rules of design and the web today. Simple, authoritative and packed with deep and inherent wisdom. There are some great examples, tips and resources packed in here too!

User don’t hate change. They hate you.

by @cwodtke

Great timing and great read! Summing up the article pretty succinctly is this line

Users don’t hate change. Users hate change that doesn’t make things better

It’s a neat sentiment that doesn’t seem to be incorporated into most organisations or projects. The article is full of great, simple advice of things that should be (but aren’t) evident in every change management process.It really is about putting the user experience at the heart of every decision – but also as the driver for every change!

For change to be accepted, it needs to first have real value to the user. Then it must be explained clearly in the language of that person’s values. Not the designers’, not the company’s.

Many Internets, many lives

from @RNfuturetense

Catching up on some podcasts and this one popped up. I hadn’t heard Ethan Zuckerman or Genevieve Bell speak before but was aware of some of there work. I really enjoyed listening to some of the ideas here – particularly because I share many of them. It was amazing listening to Dr Bell about how people actually use digital devices and see how closely that matched the experiences in the mLearn project.

Tweeps

@MsJackMonroe
@BHS_Doyle
@jasonfried
@frankieboyle
@stephenanderson
@cennydd
@nickknoco
@smartinez
@anotherschwab
@mseangallagher
@jaycross
@PlashingVole
@cassiemarketos
@EskoKilpi
@hjarche
@lexsisney
@sig
@DotGridDotCom
@Swan5280
@lukew
Joshua Davis
@TSLCCEvents
@geeksam
@krisshaffer
@hartzog
@EvanSelinger
@brianboyer
@cwodtke
@RNfuturetense

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